Steven Seagal
Vladimir Putin with Steven SeagalFiles

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed an executive order giving actor Steven Seagal Russian citizenship, the Kremlin announced Thursday.

The action film actor has visited Russia regularly over the last few years, and has been open about his approval for Putin.

Putin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Seagal "has been insistent for a long time" in asking to become a Russian citizen, AP reports.

"He is known for his warm feelings to our country, he never made a secret of it, and he's also a well-known actor, which gave grounds to make him a Russian citizen." Peskov said.

In 2013, Seagal recounted first meeting Putin on Russian television, according to the AP: "The first time I walked into his home I saw a life-sized statue of Kano Jigoro, who is the founder of judo, so I was immediately taken and impressed and sort of wanting to get to know this man deeper and deeper."

Seagal, who according to his own website is 64, is the latest Western celebrity who has been given a Russian passport in the past few years. In 2013, Gerard Depardieu, a French actor, was given Russian citizenship by Putin.

Under the Russian constitution, the president has authority over "issues of citizenship of the Russian Federation and the granting of asylum."

That means that Seagal automatically became a Russian citizen as soon as the decree was published, and he doesn't have to officially accept it. 

During his most recent Russia visit two months ago, he went to the Northeast regions of Kamchatka and Sakhalin and said that he "didn't rule out" obtaining Russian citizenship, adding that he would like to spend several months a year in Russia.